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Ed Larson head shot

Edward J. Larson

University Professor
Hugh & Hazel Darling Chair in Law
Caruso School of Law


Ed Larson holds the Hugh and Hazel Darling Chair in Law and is University Professor of History at Pepperdine University. Originally from Ohio with a PhD in the history of science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and law degree from Harvard, Larson has lectured on all seven continents in a single calendar year and taught at Yale Law School, Stanford Law School, University of Melbourne, Leiden University, and the University of Georgia, where he chaired the History Department. Prior to become a professor, Larson practiced law in Seattle and served as counsel for the US House of Representatives in Washington, DC. He received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Ohio State University but still roots for the University of Wisconsin in football.

Recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in History and numerous other awards for writing and teaching, Larson is the author or co-author of fourteen books and over one hundred published articles. His 2015 book, The Return of George Washington: Uniting the States, 1783-1789, was a New York Times Bestseller and resulted in Larson being invited to deliver the 2016 Supreme Court Historical Society lecture in Washington, give the annual Gaines Lecture at Mount Vernon, and serve as a featured presenter for the Library of Congress's Madison Council event. His other books, which have been translated into over twenty languages, include An Empire of Ice: Scott Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science; A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America's First Presidential Campaign; and the Pulitzer Prize winning Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion. Larson's articles have appeared in such varied publications as Nature, Atlantic Monthly, Science, Scientific American, Time, Wall Street Journal, American History, The Guardian, and dozens of law reviews. His latest book, American Inheritance, was published by W.W. Norton in 2023.

A popular lecturer, Larson has taught short courses at universities in China, Europe, and South America; and given addresses at over 80 American universities. He was a resident scholar at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Study Center; held the Fulbright Program's John Adams Chair in American Studies; participated in the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Writers and Artists Program; and served as an inaugural Fellow at the Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon. A panelist on the National Institutes of Health's Study Section for Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues of the Human Genome Project, Larson is interviewed frequently for broadcast, print, cable, and internet media, including The Daily Show, The Today Show, and multiple appearances on PSB, BBC, the History Channel, C-SPAN, CNN, Fox News, MNBC, and NPR.


  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1984
  • J.D., Harvard University, 1979
  • M.A., University of Wisconsin, 1976
  • B.A., Williams College, 1974



Book Reviews


Book Chapters


  • 2018 National Outdoor Book Award, Book of the Year in History/Biography for "To the Edges of the Earth"
  • 2017 Friends of Darwin Award, National Association for Science Education
  • 2017 Dean's Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Pepperdine Law School
  • 2014-15 Gaines Distinguished Visiting Lecturer of American History, Mount Vernon
  • 2013-14 Fellow, Fred Smith Library for Study of George Washington, Mount Vernon
  • 2012 Book of the Year, History, Georgia Writers Association
  • 2012 Finalist, Hessell-Tillman Prize in History for Empire of Ice
  • 2011 Honorable Mention, National Outdoor Book Award for Empire of Ice
  • 2007-12 Fulbright Senior Specialist, U.S. Dept. of State Fulbright Program
  • 2003-04 Participant, Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, National Science Foundation
  • 2003 American Spirit Award, Conference on Southern Literature
  • 2001 Christ-Janer Award for Outstanding Research in the Humanities, Univ. of GA
  • 2000-01 John Adams Chair of American History, Fulbright Program, University of Leiden, The Netherlands
  • 2000 George Sarton Lecture, American Association for Advancement of Science
  • 1999 National Civil Liberties Award, American Civil Liberties Union
  • 1998 Pulitzer Prize for History
  • 1998 American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award Finalist
  • 1998 Washington State Governor's Writers Award
  • 1998 Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge Certificate of Recognition
  • 1997 Templeton Prize for Outstanding Article in Science and Religion
  • 1996 Resident Scholar, Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Study Center, Italy
  • 1992 Richard B. Russell Award for Undergraduate Teaching, University of Georgia
  • 1989 Parks-Heggoy Award for Excellence in Teaching History, University of Georgia



  • Healthcare Law
  • Science and Technology


  • Healthcare Law
  • Science and Technology